Friday, April 27, 2012


There probably as as many ways to make a picture book dummy as there are illustrators and authors.  This is how I make mine. 
    I usually work out my composition sketches with tracing paper and scanned print-outs---cutting, taping, re-sizing, re-printing, re-taping---so I need a hard, smooth dummy paper that will stand up to the wear and tear.  
For many years I've been using "Borden & Riley's #234 Paris Bleedproof Paper for Pens".  It's not terribly expensive, and it comes in a 19" x 24" size pad, which is usually big enough for whatever book I'm working on.  (If I'm working on a larger book, I purchase over-sized loose sheets of a similar type of paper from my local art store.)  Using the dimensions I've decided on for the dummy, I make a tiny diagram for myself showing the measurements of the paper I need to cut.  I ALWAYS make this diagram before cutting.  It prevents those awful experiences in which, after cutting all the paper, one discovers that it's just half an inch too small.
I will need 8 pieces of paper that are the height of the finished dummy, and twice its width.  Perhaps the finished dummy is going to be 11 inches wide by 9 inches tall---see diagram above.
I will therefore need 8 pieces of paper that are 22 inches wide (twice the finished width of 11 inches) by 9 inches top to bottom. 
But not quite.  Since I am persnickety about details, and can't stand having an uneven front edge to the dummy, I add approximately 1 inch (the amount does not need to be exact) to the width of the paper.
After cutting the paper, I stack it carefully into a neat a pile, and fold it, all together, in half.  The front edges do not align at this step, nor is it possible to make them do so.
I smooth down the fold several times as hard as possible with a bone smoother.  You can also use the back of a large plastic spoon, for example, for this. Then I staple or sew the pages together, through the center fold.
Fastening through the center fold allows the dummy to open completely and lie flat as I work on it.
After sewing, I close the dummy back up and crease the fold again several times, hard, with the smoother. Then I measure the desired dimension from spine/fold to front edge (in this case it would be the 11" width) and trim off the excess paper, all at once. No uneven front edge!   Starting with the front of the dummy, I number the pages, 1 to 32.  
   The dummy is now ready for use.

1 comment:

  1. you are so clever and this is such a clear and understandable guide to creating a book dummy. beautiful.